Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sentimental favorite gags ... and bald dude rules!

The Bald Truth

Tom Watson choked!

He choked on No. 18, when he cost himself the championship by never giving his 8-foot putt a fighting chance. And he choked so many times during his four-hole playoff with Stewart Cink that paramedics should have been called to Turnberry to remove the blockage from his throat.

This doesn't erase the 59-year-old Hall of Famer's accomplishments over the weekend and, especially, over his glorious career. And it certainly doesn't discredit the victory by Cink, a grinder who took advantage of his opponent's mistakes and therefore deserved to win The Open Championship.

But to ignore the obvious - or to couch it in kinder terms - just because nice-guy Watson was the sentimental favorite would be as silly as it would be disingenuous.

Tom Watson choked away the Claret Jug, choked away his shot at history. It wasn't a choke of VandeVeldeian proportions, but it was a choke nonetheless.

There. I said it.

The TV Exchange

Paul Azinger: "For Stewart Cink ... this has to be difficult for him because he's a fan of Tom Watson as well."

Curtis Strange: "Oh, he doesn't care right now. Tom Watson's standing between he and that trophy."

Bravo, Curtis! I like Azinger, but jeesh ... what a dopey thing to say.

The Balder Truth

After Cink sank his 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole - and followed that clutch shot by kissing his golf ball in celebration - I found myself rooting for the guy whose infamous missed bunny of a putt cost him dearly at the 2001 U.S. Open.

Admittedly, part of it was because Cink removed his cap to display a shiny dome that's almost a mirror image of my own: totally bald except for a ring of stubble just north of the neck region. (CHECK IT OUT!)

A bigger part of it, however, was contrarianism. 

If everybody else - including (especially?) the sickeningly non-objective folks at ABC - was rooting for Tom, somebody outside the Cink family needed to root for Stewart.

Tee It Up!

After spending much of the last four days watching the action at Turnberry, I am totally psyched for the round of golf I'm going to play Monday with my buddy (and former Copley colleague), Gene Chamberlain.

We're playing Settler's Hill, a links-style course built on the site of an old garbage dump in the Western 'burb of Batavia. 

Mounds ... tall grass ... high winds. Cool.

Not a penny will be on the line, just pride ... and I expect I'll choke often. 

I'll probably even fail to advance the ball out of the fescue a couple of times, just like Watson did during the playoff.


See? Even though Tiger was back home with his tigress and cubs, a major golf tournament turned out to be utterly compelling sports theater.

The lead changed hands often, the shotmaking was incredible (and sometimes incredibly bad), the storylines were dramatic and mounds of memories were created.

As usual, championship-level sport provides all the reality TV anybody ever needs.

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